I took two fiction-writing courses in college and majored in literature. I felt that I had a knack though I wouldn't go so far as to call it a talent. But it scared me. I felt it was a childish thing wanting to write and that I would forget about it eventually.
If you want to write, then write; if you don't want to write, then don't write. I fell into the former category, and I just made the decision that I'd keep on because I liked it and might someday do something decent.
I think I was lucky to come of age in a place and time - the American South in the 1960s and '70s - when the machine hadn't completely taken over life. The natural world was still the world, and machines - TV, telephone, cars - were still more or less ancillary, and computers were unheard of in everyday life.
You have the mainstream bourgeois life of the U.S., Europe, the "developed" world - the life of technology, education, mortgages, careers, a certain level of physical comfort - while on the other hand, several billion people on the planet exist on less than a dollar a day. That's a huge and terrible reality to get your head around.